Today is the eave of the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina pounding the Gulf Coast communities into an unspeakable oblivion, and in just under two weeks America will observe the five year anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001. In the shadow of these monstrous events, baseball seems so incredibly trivial.
Or does it?
This game, for all it's flaws and shortcomings, for the idolatry and hypocrisy of it's players and administrators, really is our national pastime. People use it as the light at the end of the winter tunnel as spring training approaches, they build their nightly schedules around it, and look to it as the last refuge of summer's warm breath. Football, to be sure, has rooted itself firmly in the crisp bite of autumn and winter, but in no way can football lay claim to the broad strokes that baseball has painted across the American landscape since the mid-nineteenth century.
Players come and go, dynasties rise and fall, the stands fill, empty, and fill again. With scotch or steroids, weights or offseason work, baseball truly has marked the pass of time in our young nation. We remember the winning seasons and try to forget the lost ones, but beyond those we remember the milestones. Ruth's greatness, Robinson's integration, Clemente's charity, Buckner's blunder, and a young Yankee nine's rise at century's close, and fall at millenium's opening: all of these events have woven themselves into the mythic fabric of Baseball's past.
The Red Sox are falling and October baseball, for the first time in three years, looks to be nothing more than summer's daydream. But regardless of their troubles, watch the game tonight, or, if particularly nostalgic, give it a listen on the radio. As we remember our nation's greatest tragedies, be sure, too, to recall our nation's brighter times, and continue the tradition that Baseball has handed us.